A premiere of Believe Me will be shown for free to students at 8 p.m. Friday in Cullen Auditorium.
The film is presented by ACU FilmFest executive producers and Katheryn Cansino, alumnus and production assistant on the film.
“You come, you watch a great movie, you eat some popcorn, you ask some questions and you go and you get two Chapel credits,” said Stephen Estrada, senior management major from San Antonio.
The men behind the movie will be on campus after the film to answer questions and talk with students about the movie and their role as Christians in Hollywood.
“Having it be a Chapel forum just makes it that much more exciting for students,” said Cansino, set production assistant for the film. “You get to see something that is different from the normal Christian drama that you see.”
From the director and studio behind Beware of Christians and One Nation Under God, Believe Me is a dramatic comedy following the tricks of four young men impersonating Christians to get money for school.
Believe Me is directed and co-written by Will Bakke, produced by Allen Carroll and co-written by Michael B. Allen.
“There’s a lot of challenges and things that people are going to go ‘That’s so wrong!’ and ‘How could you believe them?'” Cansino said. “In that, you realize how easy it is to manipulate people because of your faith. It’s one of those things where it’s taking this mirror and shining it back on Christianity.”
The feature film stars various actors such as Nick Offerman and Lecrae as well as Alex Russell, Max Adler and Sinqua Wallas.
“The story is about four college students who can’t pay for their last semester of college,” said Estrada. “They don’t know how they’re going to get the money, and so they start up a fake charity and they say ‘Oh, well we’re giving money to Africa,’ when they’re really taking the money and paying for their college with it. In that, they have to learn how to be Christians. So it’s a little bit of a satire on who Christians are today and the Christian culture, kind of poking fun. But I think if you can’t poke fun at something you’re very serious about, then there is a little bit of a lapse in understanding of it.”
As part of FilmFest’s involvement in the premiere, they coordinated with Riot Studios and the Chapel office to bring it to campus.
The workshops will take place at 2 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. Friday in the Learning Studio Screening Room.
“They’ll be talking about their journeys as working in Hollywood and being in an industry where it seems like Christianity doesn’t fit, but also being a Christian in that industry,” Estrada said.
One of the emcees for the talk back sessions is FilmFest marketing director Logan Sartain, junior advertising/public relations major from Lindale.
“For those actually interested in film and FilmFest, I hope that they see this is possible,” Sartain said. “This isn’t Disney Pixar, not Universal Studios; this is Riot Studios, this is Alex Carroll and staff. Making films big time is a realistic dream.”
This is an opportunity for students to speak with men who have made a feature film as Christians in Hollywood.
“I see them making films that push the envelope when it comes to the Christian genre,” Cansino said. “You see these films that are Christian films that are almost a sweet sickening feeling when you watch them. Riot Studios does things where they want to challenge you. I think that’s what this generation of Christians have been seeking.”
In the spring of 2012, Cansino, financial analyst at ACU, worked with Riot Studios to get its popular documentary Beware of Christians shown on campus.
Since that time, Cansino has maintained a relationship with the studio and began work as a set production assistant on its latest film, Believe Me.
“[Believe Me] was shot on a 20-day schedule in Austin, Texas,” Cansino said. “It was kind of this weird, crazy roller coaster where I got there a week before production actually started.”
The only part of the film that wasn’t shot in 20 days is the scene with Nick Offerman, which was shot in Los Angeles.
“You’re working long hours when you’re there,” Cansino said. “It’s 14-hour to 16-hour days when you’re shooting. When you’re a set production assistant, you’re one of the first people there and the last to leave.”
Among the various duties of production assistant was running around Austin for supplies, making sure the set ran smoothly and the actors were comfortable with their needs met. Cansino came face-to-face with the hands-on portion of the film process.
“I got to yell ‘Quiet on set’ pretty much every day at the top of my lungs,” Cansino said. “Nothing is more awkward than yelling at the producer and the director to be quiet.”
The filming was done and entered post-production that summer.
“I think my favorite (moment) has to be the World Premier of the film that happened in April at the Dallas International Film Festival,” Cansino said. “It was like a family reunion, it was great to see the cast and crew again.”
Now that the film is done and has been in theaters around the country, it has made its way to Cullen Auditorium, brought by ACU FilmFest.
“FilmFest is excited to be doing things like this,” Estrada said. “Last year, we had one of the best years we’ve ever had. We think that film culture needs to exist here on campus, not just the watching but the making. Especially to have Christians out there doing it.”
All photos courtesy of Riot Studios Press Kit